Malaya, my favorite four year old niece, came up to me whilst I was lounging about on the couch. She reached out her tiny little hand and tugged at the cuff of my polo shirt. “Uncle Chris, will you play a game with me?”
“Sure sweetie. What do you want to play?”
“Chutes and ladders,” she popped up onto her feet and bounded for the toy closet, “Or we can play one of Tala’s games.”
She came back balancing a long rectangle box in her hands and swaying back and forth under its considerable two, maybe three pound weight. “Let’s play this one.”
What she’d selected was a children’s circuitry set which, when set up properly, would light up with LEDs and send a propeller that Malaya deemed a “fan” a few feet into the air. One of the pieces you could choose to connect to this plastic breadboard was an LED inside a translucent white egg. That brings us to this day’s epic trolling event.
“Uncle Chris,” said Malaya. “Did you know that there are two kinds of eggs? There are eggs with babies and eggs that don’t have babies.”
“Yeah, but you don’t eat the ones with babies in them.”
Now to understand this, you have to understand a little bit about Filipino cuisine beyond lumpia and pancit. There’s a thing called balut. Balut is basically a half fertilized egg. You can crack one open and see a little duckling beak, feathers, and lifeless little eyes staring back up at you. And then you slurp it down. If you’re so inclined. I am not, because that shit is disgusting. At least it’s disgusting to anyone that grew up in the United States and hasn’t’ spent a great deal of time overseas. Or if you’re Filipina, like my mother.
“You know,” I said. “Your mamala (grandma) eats the ones with babies in them.”
Malaya went still, stood at attention, a peered daggers at me from beneath her wispy bangs. “No she doesn’t.”
“Yes she does,” I said.
“No! She! Doesn’t!” She made each word a declaration, punctuated by tiny little fists as she hammered them into the air. Her voice grew louder and more shrill with each word.
“I could be wrong, let’s ask her.” I pulled out my phone and put it on speaker, and dialed.
“Hi mom, I have a question.”
“What are those eggs called with the babies in them?”
“You mean balut?”
“Yeah, you eat balut right?”
“See Malaya? Mamala does eat the ones with babies!”
My niece just sat there, horrified.
“Christopher!” said my mom. “No Malaya, your uncle is lying! I don’t eat the babies.”
“But you just said you ate the babies,” I said.
“I don’t actually eat the babies. I just suck the juices out.”
“So you suck the juices out of the babies?”
“Damn-it Chris. Malaya don’t listen to uncle!”
The whole time I heard my dad laughing like a madman in the background. He knew why it was funny. Good times.